Trip reports

Crosby Marina, Marshside and Mere Sands Wood - 09/02/13

Crosby Marina, Marshside and Mere Sands Wood - 09/02/13
Twite - Dennis Atherton

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Our February outing saw us on the west Lancashire coast, working our way north from Crosby to Southport.

We began at Crosby Marina with a walk round the marine lake which held a pair of red-breasted mergansers, several cormorants as well as black-headed and common gulls. We then spent some time scoping the pools of Seaforth Nature Reserve through the fence. We quickly spotted a pair of greater scaup among the more regular ducks: pochard, tufted duck, teal, shelduck, goldeneye and mallard. A group of thirty or so black-tailed godwits were industriously probing the mud on the bank between the two pools. Other waders present included redshank, lapwing & curlew. As we approached the shoreline, one of our number commented on the bravery of all the people wading out in the cold Irish Sea. It didn't take long for him to work out that they weren't moving and were therefore statues at which point we explained about Anthony Gormley's art installation. As it turned out, there was nothing on the beach apart from a couple of magpies and the sea proved to hold even less! As we walked back round to the car park we saw the male red-breasted merganser fly back in and land on the marine lake only this time he had two females with him!

Our next stop was the car park at Weld Road, just south of Southport. As we followed the path along the sea wall several common snipe, skylark and meadow pipit were flushed from the marsh along with 3 jack snipe. Waders on the foreshore included grey plover, turnstone, dunlin and an enormous flock of knot. The bird we were really hoping to see here was so far proving elusive. However, as we were just about to give up and turn back to the cars, a flock of 50 were spotted feeding among the marsh grass - twite!!! We watched these fascinating little finches making their way along the marsh for several minutes before the flock took flight. We thought that was an end to the show but we were wrong. They landed on the sea wall not too far ahead of us affording us even better views.

Moving on, lunch was declared as we arrived at the RSPB Marshside car park. Goldfinch & linnet were seen from here. Junction pool & Nel's hide held an amazing number of wigeon with shoveler, teal, pochard and pintail also in evidence. The water level was very high so not conducive to waders but there was a single redshank, several common snipe and a small flock of golden plover, some of them already showing the black belly proving that spring really is on the way no matter how much the weather makes it hard to believe.

Onto Sandgrounders hide and the hunt for the recently spotted great egret began. A good number of little egrets were making the task more difficult but it was eventually spotted off to the left against the far fence. We headed off up the road for a better look and the ID was confirmed.

Our final stop was inland at the LWT reserve of Mere Sands Wood. It was a relatively short visit as the light was beginning to fade but it was certainly worth it. First stop was the Lancaster hide where quiet patience was rewarded with a first class sighting of the secretive water rail feeding right in front of the hide for several minutes. 8 reed buntings were also showing well, the males looking very smart in their fresh breeding plumage. The trees in and around the feeding station had chaffinch, tree sparrow, dunnock, robin, siskin and bullfinch. Goosander, tufted duck and gadwall were on the pools around the reserve as was a black swan! The final sighting of the day was a pair of treecreeper climbing the beech trees right next to the path.

Overall it was a fantastic day with some wonderful star sightings. Total species seen = 70.